Salisbury Massachusetts, 1890

Salisbury forms the northeastern extremity of Essex County and of the State. It is bounded on the east by the ocean, on the south by Newburyport, on the west by Amesbury, and on the north by Seabrook in New Hampshire. Its assessed area is 8,313 acres, of which some 1,500 are forest.

The land in the eastern section is low and marshy, furnishing large quantities of salt hay. A beautiful sea-beach of yellow sand extends north and south about three miles, and is very wide, hard, clean and smooth. It has become quite a fashionable summer resort; and this shore is enlivened by long rows of summer houses, many of fantastic appearance, with a hotel or two. The geological formation of the town is Merrimack schist, sienite, drift and alluvium. In the western part of the town the land rises into several handsome eminences, the most prominent being Monday, Grape and Powow hills; the summit of the latter being 328 feet above the level of the sea. From this beautifully rounded elevation may be seen a wide expanse of hills, sea and shore, and near at hand the noble Merrimack, sweeping grandly through the valley, dividing this town from Newburyport, then mingling with the ocean. Powow River, washing the western base of this hill, and forming the Amesbury line, has a fall of 40 feet in a short distance whence is derived the motive power for mills on both sides of the stream. Just before its junction with the Merrimack it meets a bluff some 60 or more feet in height, and turns abruptly toward the west, until this headland (called Salisbury Point) is passed, then, turning southward again it enters the larger river. To one standing on this bluff, the two streams, so near each other, flowing in opposite directions, present a singular appearance. The contiguous villages of Amesbury Mills and West Salisbury, on the opposite banks of the Powow River, are intimately connected in their industries. The Salisbury post-office is at the latter village; the other office being Salisbury Beach, at East Salisbury. Other villages and notable localities are King's Island and Black Rocks. A street railroad connects these points, and extends to Amesbury. Two highway bridges and the Eastern Railroad bridge across the Merrimack, connect the town with Newburyport. From East Salisbury a branch railroad extends from the main line of the Eastern to Salisbury Point, West Salisbury and Amesbury Mills.

Apple orchards are numerous, and these, with cranberry bogs and strawberry beds, add a large sum to the proceeds of other farm crops; the total value of which for the 93 farms was reported for 1885 as $103,176. The chief manufacture is carriages, which was employing in June, 1885, 584 of the inhabitants. A cotton mill employs upwards of 100 and several hundred are employed in a woollen mill and in boot and shoe factories, some of which are on the Amesbury side of the river. Other manufactures are boats, bricks, boxes, wrought stone, glue, paints, leather, clothing, furniture, soap, food preparations, artisans' tools, and metallic articles. The aggregate value of goods made was $2,049,211. The fisheries, consisting of clams, cod, haddock and eels, brought the sum of $2,320. The population was 4,840, of whom 1,355 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $516,530, with a tax-rate of $11 on $1,000. The number of dwelling-houses taxed was 347.

The public schools are graded as primary, grammar and high. They occupy 13 buildings valued at nearly $23,000. There is a circulating library of about 3,000 volumes. The churches are two each of the Congregationalists and Methodists, and one each of the Universalist and the "Christian Connection."

This place (including the territory of Amesbury) was granted to Daniel Dennison, Simon Bradstreet and others, in 1638, "to be a plantation" under the name of "Merrimack." In the ensuing year it received the name of "Colchester," and on the 7th of October, 1640, it was incorporated as the town of Salisbury. In 1668 the western part was set off to form Amesbury. The towns of Hampton, Portsmouth, Exeter and Dover, in N. H., were annexed to Massachusetts in 1643, and together with Haverhill and Salisbury, formed into a county called Norfolk, with the latter as the shire-town. In 1679 New Hampshire became a separate State, and the county of Norfolk lost its existence.

Many large merchant vessels and gun-ships were constructed here in the early years of the nation, one of which was the celebrated Continental frigate "Alliance," of 32 guns, remarkable for sailing qualities, — the favorite ship of the gallant Capt. John Barry. As many as 316 men went from this town to serve the Union cause in the late war, and 35 died, three of the number in Andersonville prison. A church was organized in Salisbury in 1638; and a minister settled in 1698 —Rev. Caleb Cushing; whose son, Hon. Caleb Cushing, LL.D., was born here, January 17, 1800.

pp. 578-580 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890